INTRODUCTION

This article defines and explains the theological method of Bible study. I have also included an example of this method, by studying the Christology of Colossians. (Christology is the study of the doctrine of Jesus Christ).

THE METHOD DEFINED

The theological method focuses on the study of basic Bible doctrines. It is the study of a book or the Bible as a whole in order to collect, compare, and organize doctrine.

“Theology” is the study of God. This includes the study of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The theological method focuses on Bible doctrines that reveal things about God. A doctrine is a group of teachings about a certain subject. The theological method focuses on basic doctrines (collective teachings) of theology (things pertaining to God).

A theological study usually focuses on all a certain book teaches on a selected doctrine. An even more detailed theological study focuses on all the entire Bible teaches on a doctrine. A doctrine is never determined on the basis of one isolated verse or passage. Doctrinal error results from teaching a doctrine based on only a few selected texts. This is a practice followed by false cults.

In doing a theological Bible study you can apply everything you have already learned about book, chapter, paragraph, verse, and word study. All of these study methods can be applied as you use the theological method.

 THE METHOD EXPLAINED

There are five major steps in the theological method of Bible study:

 STEP ONE: SELECT THE TOPIC

The following outline of Biblical theology will assist you in selecting topics for use in the theological method of Bible study:

 Biblical Theology

 I. Bibliology: The study of the doctrine of the Bible.

A. Origin

B. Revelation

C. Inspiration

D. Authority

E. Illumination (how the Holy Spirit illuminates or helps us understand the Bible)

F. Interpretation

II. Theology: Study of God the Father.

A. The attributes of God

B. The works of God

C. The names of God

D. The triune nature of God

III. Christology: The study of the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

A. The attributes of Jesus

B. The works of Jesus

C. The names of Jesus

D. The triune nature of Jesus

E. His life in the flesh:

1. Birth and childhood

2. Baptism

3. Temptation

4. Transfiguration

5. Teachings

6. Miracles

7. Sufferings and death

8. Resurrection

9. Ascension

F. The second return of Jesus Christ

G. The messianic kingdom

H. The deity of Jesus: The study of how Jesus was both divine and human, in one person.

I. His pre-existence with God the Father

J. Old Testament types of Jesus Christ

IV. Pneumatology: The study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

A. The attributes of the Holy Spirit

B. The work and ministry of the Holy Spirit

1. In the Old Testament

2. In the New Testament

3. In the present Church age

C. The names of the Holy Spirit

D. Pre-existence of the Holy Spirit with God the Father

E. Triune nature of the Holy Spirit

F. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament contrasted with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament

G. Types and symbols of the Holy Spirit

H. Gifts of the Holy Spirit

I. Fruit of the Holy Spirit

J. Baptism in the Holy Spirit

V. Angelology: The study of good angels, the angels of God:

A. Their structure and organization

B. Names of angels

C. The work of angels: Past, present, future

VI. Demonology: The study of wicked angels who are the demons of Satan:

A. Origin

B. Structure and organization

C. Names

D. Work: Past, present, future

E. Judgment and destination

VII. Satanology: Study of Satan:

A. Origin

B. Fall

C. Names

D. Work: Past, present, future

E. Judgment and destination

VIII. Anthropology: The study of the origin and nature of man:

A. The origin of man

B. The fall of man

C. The sin nature of man

D. God’s remedy for man’s sin

IX. Soteriology: The study the doctrine of salvation.

A. The development of the plan of Salvation: Traced from the first promise of salvation in Genesis 3:15 throughout the Bible

B. Study of the Saviour, Jesus Christ (see God the Son Jesus Christ, Christology)

C. The finished work of the Saviour

D. The terms of salvation

X. Ecclesiology: This is the study of the doctrine of the Church. It focuses on all the Bible teaches regarding the spiritual Body of Jesus Christ which is called the Church:

A. The Church as an organism: The body of Christ

B. The contrast between Israel and the Church

C. The organization of the Church:

1. Ordinances

2. Order

3. Structure

4. Service

5. Doctrine of the church

XI. Eschatology: Study of the last events which are to happen before eternity begins:

A. Prophecy concerning the Church

B. Prophecy concerning Israel

C. Prophecy concerning other nations of the world

D. Prophecy concerning the Messiah: His returns and establishing of His kingdom

E. The resurrections of the dead

F. The judgments

G. The tribulation

H. The millennium

I. The eternal states of the righteous and the unrighteous

STEP TWO: DEFINE THE DOCTRINE SELECTED

The definitions of basic Bible doctrines are given in the preceding outline. These include Christology, pneumatology, theology, bibliology, angelology, demonology, satanology, anthropology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology.

 STEP THREE: SELECT THE BIBLE PORTION TO BE STUDIED

Decide the book or books of the Bible in which you will study this doctrine. Books of the New Testament are the best to use for theological research. The Old Testament is largely prophetic or in narrative (story) form. The New Testament, especially the Gospels and the Letters, provide much material for theological Bible study.

 STEP FOUR: GATHER INFORMATION ON THE DOCTRINE

Use what you have learned about book, chapter, paragraph, verse, and word studies to help you gather information on the doctrine which you are studying. As you read, make notations on everything the Scriptures reveal about the doctrine.

 STEP FIVE: SUMMARIZE THE INFORMATION YOU GATHERED

Summarize the information you recorded during Bible study. Use the outline on theology given in this chapter to help you organize your study notes into an outline or chart.

 

EXAMPLE OF THE METHOD

 STEP ONE: SELECT THE TOPIC

For an example of the theological method I have selected the topic of Christology.

 STEP TWO: DEFINE THE DOCTRINE

Christology is the study of the doctrines pertaining to Jesus Christ.

 STEP THREE: SELECT THE BIBLE PORTION TO BE STUDIED

We will study Christology in the book of Colossians.

 STEP FOUR: GATHER INFORMATION ON THE DOCTRINE

For this study we first read and outline the book of Colossians:

 The Book Of Colossians

I. Introduction: 1:1-14

A. Greetings: 1:1-2

B. Thanksgiving: 1:3-8

C. Paul’s prayer for Christians at Colossae: 1:9-14

II. The person and work of Jesus: 1:15-23

A. Lord of creation: 1:15-17

B. Lord of the Church: 1:18-19

C. Reconciler: 1:20-23

III. Paul: God’s minister of reconciliation: 1:24-2:7

A. Sufferings: 1:24

B. Minister of mystery of Christ: 1:25-29

C. Desire for unity and stability in Christ: 2:1-7

IV. Christ’s lordship over false teaching: 2:8-3:4

A. Lord of every power: 2:8-10

B. Source of the new life: 2:11-14

C. Conqueror of principalities and power: 2:15

D. Colossian practices as denial of Christ’s lordship: 2:16-3:4

1. Ritual: 2:16-17

2. Angel worship: 2:18-19

3. Subject to rudiments of world: 2:20-23

4. Worldly, temporal affections: 3:1-4

V. Christ’s lordship and the Christian life: 3:5-4:6

A. Old life to put off: 3:5-9

B. New life to put on: 3:10-17

C. Special situations: 3:18-4:6

1. Home: 3:18-21

2. Work: 3:22; 4:1

3. General guidelines: 3:23-25

VI. Final instructions: 4:2-6

A. Duty of prayer: 4:2-4

B. Duty of witness: 4:5-6

VII. Closing: 4:7-18

A. Personal greetings: 4:7-17

B. Salutation: 4:18

(Note: In addition to outlining the book, you could also do chapter, paragraph, verse, and word studies to study the doctrine within the book. What studies you do depends on how thoroughly you decide to study the subject. For purposes of this example, we have done only an outline on Colossians).

Next, we read the book again and write down every reference to Jesus Christ and summarized what was taught by that reference:

Chapter One:

1:1         His name: Jesus Christ.
1:2         Peace comes from Jesus.
1:3         God is Father of the Lord Jesus.
1:4         Faith is in Jesus Christ.
1:13       His Kingdom.
1:14       In Jesus we have redemption and forgiveness of sin.
1:15       Jesus is the image of the invisible God; He is the firstborn of all creation.
1:16       All things were created by Jesus.
1:17       Jesus is before all things and in Him all things consist.
1:18       Jesus is the head of the Church which is His spiritual body.
1:18       Jesus is the firstborn from the dead (this means He was the first to be resurrected from the dead).
1:19       All fullness is in Him.
1:20       Jesus made peace through the blood of His cross.
1:20       Jesus accomplished reconciliation.
1:22       Holiness is through Jesus Christ.
1:24       The Church is His spiritual body.
1:27       When Jesus is within us we have the hope of glory.
1:28       Jesus is our perfection.
1:29       He works in us mightily.

 Chapter Two:

2:3         All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him.
2:5         Jesus is the object of our faith.
2:6         We are to walk in Him.
2:7         We are to grow in Him.
2:9         In Jesus the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.
2:10       Jesus is the head of all principalities and powers we are complete in Him.
2:13       Jesus has forgiven us (circumcision of heart).
2:14       Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament law.
2:15       Jesus judged principalities and powers.
2:17       The body is of Christ.
2:19       He is the head of the body.
2:20       If we are dead with Christ, we are not subject to the rudiments of the world.

 Chapter Three:

3:1         We are raised with Jesus.
3:1         He is seated at the right hand of God.
3:4         Jesus is our life.
3:4         Jesus will be manifested and we will be manifested with Him (“manifested” would make a good word study).
3:11       Christ is all and in all; He breaks down walls of separation.
3:10       We are renewed in knowledge after His image
3:13       Forgiveness between brethren is possible on the basis of Christ’s forgiveness.
3:15       Peace comes from Jesus.
3:16       His Word is to dwell in us richly.
3:17       We are to do all in His name.
3:17       We are to pray in His name.
3:24       We are to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Chapter Four:

4:3         The mystery of Christ (the Gospel).

STEP FIVE: SUMMARIZE THE INFORMATION YOU GATHERED

The following outline analyses the information gathered in Colossians on Christology. It summarizes the basic doctrines taught about Jesus in this book:

 The Study Of Christology In Colossians

 I. The names of Jesus Christ:

A. Christ Jesus: 1:1

B. Lord Jesus Christ: 1:3

C. Head of the Body: 1:18, 24

D. Son of His love: 1:13

E. Lord Christ: 3:24

II. The attributes of Jesus Christ:

A. Omniscient: Knows all (in Him is all wisdom and knowledge): 2:3

B. Love: He made peace through the blood of His cross because of His love for sinful mankind: 1:20

C. Holiness: He is perfection: 1:29

D. Omnipresence: Present everywhere; Christ is in all: 3:11

E. Infinity: Before all things: 1:17; Christ is all: 3:11

F. Omnipotent: He is all powerful:

1. All things are created by Him: 1:16

2. All is held together by Him: 1:17

3. Principalities and powers are subject to Him: 2:10

G. Creator: 1:16

H. Forgiver: 2:13

I. Peace: 1:2

J. Faith: 1:4

K. Wisdom and knowledge: 2:2-3

III. The Deity of Jesus Christ: He was God in the flesh.

A. His relationship to God:

1. Son of God: 1:3, 13

2. He was made in the image of invisible God: 1:15

3. In Him dwelt the full Godhead: 1:19; 2:9

B. His works:

1. Creator: 1:16

2. Sustainer of life: 1:17

3. Saviour of mankind: 1:14, 20, 22; 2:13,14

4. Judged principalities and powers: 2:15

C. His position:

1. Head of principalities and powers: 2:10

2. Object of the believer’s faith: 1:4, 2:5

3. Reason and recipient of believer’s service: 3:17

4. Agent through which a believer approaches God: 3:17

5. Head of the church, His body: 1:24; 2:17, 19

6. Head of the Kingdom: 1:13

7. Seated at the right hand of God: 3:1

8. He is all and in all: 3:11

IV. The humanity of Jesus: Although He was God He was also made flesh and lived among man, subject to all the temptations and limitations of man, yet without sin:

A. He spilt His blood: 1:20

B. He died: 2:15

C. He was resurrected from the dead: 2:15; 1:18

V. His death

A. Fulfilled the law: 2:17

B. Brought principalities and powers to judgment: 2:15

C. Made peace and reconciliation for mankind: 1:20,22

D. Enabled forgiveness of sins: 2:13; 3:13

VI. His Resurrection

A. He was the firstborn or first to rise from the dead: 1:18

B. He guaranteed our resurrection: 3:1

VII. His return: He will be manifested in the future and we will be manifested with Him: 3:4